A few folks live in only one or two houses their entire lives. Many people live in several houses during their lifetime. Others live in numerous homes—moving from place to place or up-sizing or down-sizing as the needs of their lives dictate. Some are able to own more than one home at a time. We all have some sort of “home history.”
Gene Stratton-Porter’s home history began at the Hopewell Farm, outside of Lagro in Wabash County. Her parent’s house on their farm was her childhood home. But when she was 11 years old, because of her mother’s illness, the family moved into the city of Wabash to live in the home of her sister Anastasia. Her mother died a few months later, so her father moved his family into a rented home in that city. When Anastasia died a few years later, he moved them back into her home, and then out again when Anastasia’s husband re-married. When Gene married Charles Porter they moved into his family home in Decatur. The Porters lived there about 2 years until they decided to move to Geneva in 1888 where they purchased a small yellow cottage. They lived in it for almost 8 years.
The regional oil boom of the early 1890s brought good fortune to the Porters when oil wells were drilled on the farm they owned a few miles west of town. The revenues from these wells provided the Porters with enough money to design and build a wonderful new home in Geneva—the Limberlost Cabin. The Porters lived in the Cabin for 18 years. Gene began a book writing career here that made her rich and famous. When she decided to move away from Geneva, she used her wealth to purchase 120 acres of land and design and build a second, larger version of the Limberlost Cabin outside Rome City on Sylvan Lake in northern Indiana, where she had vacationed in past summers and had met Charles. She purchased a small cottage nearby which she lived in part of the time while Limberlost Cabin (North), as Gene designated her new lake home, was being built. Within a couple of years of the completion of the lake home, she designed another home that was built in Fort Wayne, which was probably more of a winter residence, while the lake home was for summer. When Gene began going to California for the winter, she sold the Fort Wayne house.
In 1920 Gene decided to move to California permanently. She had already purchased a home in Los Angeles for her winter stays. But when she decided to live there year-round, she began the process of designing and building again—only this time it was to be two houses! She had a weekend home built on Catalina Island (off the coast of L. A.) which she began using in June of 1924. She also had a huge castle-like mansion under construction in Bel-Air, which she expected to move into by mid-December of that year. But fate had other plans for Gene Stratton-Porter—she was killed in an automobile accident in Los Angeles on Dec. 6, 1924. The Bel-Air mansion she never lived in would be the last entry in her home history.